I begin this article by acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Who is a True Blue Aussie?
Not that hard to describe. For those of you who have watched ‘Crocodile Dundee’, Paul Hogan is the best fit. For others who have not yet had any friends, colleagues or a chance to experience Australia, allow me to take a step back.
The general perception of Australia is a country famous for the Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour Bridge, Kangaroos, Australian Footy, reptiles including the venomous ‘Funnel Web’ spider, a lot of beer guts hand in hand with a laidback attitude.
Well, Spot on!
What I would like to do though is introduce you to more of this fabulous country and the ‘True Blue Aussie’ and as migrants how we blended in.
The Aussie slang is probably the most intriguing for me. It is witty and adds a punch when used appropriately. Here’s what I mean – Aussies believe in giving a ‘fair go’ to everyone. This to us is being ‘Fair Dinkum’ (genuine).
Bump into a True Blue Aussie and you will be greeted with a “Good Day Mate” (‘Gday). Mateships develop from High school years and best mates hang around a lot, be it for a pub crawl, a game of footy, or even a trip to “Maccas”. McDonald’s accepted their Aussie nickname of ‘Maccas’ and some stores have their signage as “Maccas”.
It is always a good time for a ‘flat white’ (coffee) and ‘brekkie’ (breakfast) could be eggs with ‘avo’ (avocado), toasted ‘Vegemite’. My first experience of vegemite was disastrous. To be applied in seriously small quantities over bread, I loaded it like a jam spread and it took me a while to cleanse my palate.
At work, Aussies love to solve problems, are direct and accountable. However, being the sports crazy country that we are, most conversations start with a catch up on sports or pleasantries. Every profession is treated with equal respect, doesn’t matter if you are a ‘Brickie’ (bricklayer), ‘Garbo’ (garbage collector) or an ‘Ambo’ (ambulance officer).
This country is gifted with nature. Beaches are our standouts. A summer weekend, especially if it is a scorcher, people head to beaches, have fish ‘n’ chips for lunch or a ‘Chook’ (chicken). Boxing Day (26th Dec) starts with a 5 am opening of stores for our biggest two retailers ‘David Jones’ and ‘Myer’. Beach is the next favourite destination. And ‘Chrissie’ (Christmas) is always in summer here Down Under. Summer time calls for cricket and every year the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) hosts a Boxing Day test match featuring Australia and a visiting nation. When India plays, MCG turns into a deafening atmosphere with drums and celebrations.
Changing pace to wining and dining, Melbourne is the food capital. A recent survey shows women prefer white wine while men drink more beers. Craft Beers are very popular and a Pub Crawl is a must on your To Do List.
As for multiculturalism, we are a melting pot of different cultures. Everybody is identified with their origin. And it is never impolite to ask “so what is your background?”
So when we landed here a little over a decade as migrants with no family or friends, the challenges we had were to imbibe the Aussie way of life, work culture, and realising as quickly as we could that we are our sole helpers, be it chores, grocery shopping or childcare drop-offs and pickups.
So what did we do to blend in?
We embraced the Aussie culture, showcased our Indian culture (oh boy! they love our colourful costumes, curries, and passion for cricket.) We gave respect and earned respect. We did not bend their rules or rort their system, rather we demonstrated how genuine we were in our beliefs and deeds. Above all, we communicated well and shared our ideas and dreams.
And then, ‘Bloody Oath’ (that’s true), the fair dinkum True Blue Aussie reciprocated and to date we have never felt out of place. We are truly ‘Stoked’ (very pleased).
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